Both a life story and a portrait of public higher education during the twentieth century, Harry Huntt Ransom captures the spirit of a dynamic individual who dedicated his talents to nurturing intellectual life in Texas and beyond. Tracing the details of Ransom's youth in Galveston and Tennessee and his education at Yale, where he earned a doctorate, Alan Gribben provides new insight into the factors that shaped Ransom's future as a renowned administrator and defender of the humanities.
Ransom's career at the University of Texas began in 1935, when he was hired as an instructor of English. He rose through the ranks to become chancellor, stepping down in 1971 during a volatile period when debates about the University's central mission raged—particularly over the question of commercializing higher education. The development of Ransom's lasting legacy, the Humanities Research Center bearing his name, is explored in depth as well. Bringing to life a legendary figure, Harry Huntt Ransom is a colorful testament to a singular man of letters who had the audacity to propose "that there be established somewhere in Texas—let's say in the capital city—a center of our cultural compass, a research center to be the Bibliothèque Nationale of the only state that started out as an independent nation."